Benjamin Kieltyka Honors Veterans with His Eagle Scout Project
Mayor Erin E. Stewart and Veterans Commission Chairman Peter Scirpo are very grateful for Life Scouts like Benjamin Kieltyka of Troop 75 in New Britain. For his Eagle Scout project, Ben decided to clean the estimated 500+ Veterans Memorial Stones at Fairview Cemetery at 120 Smalley Street.
At the start of the project, Mayor Erin E. Stewart commented that: “New Britain holds its veterans in high regard and we are proud of the sacred duty we uphold to honor their legacy long after they have served our community and nation. We are excited to partner with Benjamin to ensure that the gravestones of more than 500 veterans at Fairview Cemetery are given the proper respect that they deserve. Benjamin is an enthusiastic resident who is setting an example for others on how to give back to the community.”
Mike Pastore, Cemetery Administrator at Fairview Cemetery, had previously done research to find the “Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning Government Issued Headstones” used at Arlington National Cemetery.
Benjamin needed to have his Eagle Scout Project approved by his Troop’s Council, request donations of cleaning supplies, recruit volunteers to help, and wait for the water at the Cemetery to be turned on in April after many freezing nights slowed that from happening. Benjamin and his team of volunteers spent countless hours cleaning the monuments in the Veterans section of Fairview Cemetery. Finally, the project was complete. Ben expressed that, “I’m honored for the opportunity to give back to the community of veterans and the City of New Britain.”
Margaret Pelletier, whose grandfather, William Jones, is buried in Fairview Cemetery, was totally shocked when she went to visit her grandfather’s grave this past June. She found a pure white stone that was easy to read when it had previously been hard to read her grandfather’s name. She became so choked up that she got tears in her eyes. Her grandfather was her best friend and so she visits his gravestone often. He served in the Army in WWI in the Medical Division. She then noticed that it wasn’t only his stone that had been cleaned but all of the others in the Veterans Section of the Cemetery as well. She hopes that other people appreciate what was done to the stones. She describes the feeling as breathtaking to see a pure white stone and clearly see her grandfather’s name. She says it’s like a miracle, is so proud of this work, and remarks what a beautiful thing it is that someone would do something like that to honor veterans. She feels so good looking at it and says Ben and his helpers must have felt really good cleaning the stones. Now when she visits her grandfather’s memorial stone, she says “Boy, grandpa! You really shine now!”
Ben has joined the Marine Corps League and will be deployed on July 16th. Not only will he honor New Britain, but he will honor our country with his service. His family and Troop 75 members must certainly be very proud of Ben. New Britain certainly is! Troop 75 is open to youth age 11 through 17 and meets on Thursdays at 7 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church at 1755 Stanley St. in New Britain.